top of page

Opinion: Harry, the Spare — boo hoo

In a TV interview, the multimillionaire resident of Montecito, who is a neighbor of Oprah’s, broke many hearts by saying that he wanted his father and brother back. I suppose that means that he feels alienated from them, and he wants to be part of a family. His tale of woe almost brings a tear to my eye. I mean, this grief-stricken guy doesn’t even have a last name. Never did. Therefore, he’s sort of an orphan of the world, a guy who has been forced to live with a series of aliases.

I can sympathize. My father changed our last name when I was six years old in order to avoid anti-Italian prejudice and discrimination on the northeast coast, where we lived at the time. At age six, I could spell S-C-I-O-R-T-I-N-O, and I’ve hated my last name (legally, G-L-Y-N-N) ever since. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with Glynn, except that most people misspell it Glenn or simply Glen.

But this sorrowful resident in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the world has a bigger problem. He has four first names and no last name. Because he was “born royal,” instead of merely mortal, he was identified by the region that supports him. So, in 1984, he was baptized “His Royal Highness Henry Charles Albert David of Wales” because his father, who is now King Charles III of Great Britain, was Prince of Wales at the time.

When he came of age, he adopted the nickname of Harry, and when he joined the military service (a royal tradition), he enlisted as Harry Wales. When he met and married Meghan Markle, an American movie actress, he was the Duke of Sussex. So, they could have used Sussex as their surname. Then, they decided to “leave the royal family” and take up residence in the United States, a country that fought a couple of bloody wars to free itself from the British monarchy.

Harry’s American Family

There’s even some confusion regarding last names in his “American family.” For example, after his and Meghan’s son was born, he was named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. However, because his father was technically the Duke of Sussex, he could have had Sussex as his last name. So where did “Mountbatten-Windsor” come from? Although nobody really cares, the late queen descended from the House of Windsor, and her husband (descendant of Prince Phillip of Greece and Denmark who simply chose Mountbatten as a surname when he became a citizen of Great Britain) passed on the Mountbatten part of the hyphenated surname.

Harry’s brother is Prince William of Cambridge, and his son was baptized “His Royal Highness Prince Louis Arthur Charles of Cambridge.” Another kid who begins life without a last name. But the family uses Cambridge as a surname, and Louis is on the pathway to being king. That’s not true of his American cousin Archie. King Charles III has told Harry and Meghan that Archie will never be a prince. I guess that’s the penalty for moving to the colonies.

When their daughter was born, she was named Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor. The first name was a bit of a mystery until it was revealed that when Queen Elizabeth was young, she had trouble pronouncing her name and said “Lilibet. The late queen told the BBC that she loved the name. She said, “Lilibet is the only thing in the world which is absolutely real to me.” So, her granddaughter, who was born with Down syndrome, was named in her honor and is called “Lili.” And, of course, Lilibet’s middle name (Diana) is in honor of Harry’s mother, the late Princess Diana.

Surnames of royalty

The surnames of “royalty” are often complicated because of the age-old tradition of “royals” only marrying “royals.” (I put “royalty” is quotation marks because I don’t believe that people who are born to be parasites, living off the sweat of others, are in any way superior to you, me, or the unfortunate people who sleep under freeway overpasses or anxiously wait on the other side of our country’s southern border.) Parasites? Yes. A leech is a parasite. It affixes itself to someone’s body and sustains itself by sucking the host’s blood.

The “royal” family of Great Britain doesn’t work. It has hundreds of millions of dollars (or pounds) granted to it by the people of Scotland, Wales, and England. Harry has a net worth that is estimated to be between $30 million and $50 million, most of it in the form of grants and inheritances. He also receives a pension of about $40,000 a year for his military service. Pocket change.

Some sources report that, when he and Meghan decided to “leave” the royal family, Harry’s annual annuities from Sussex and other British blood streams ceased. However, I think the couple will manage to get by. Their humble home in Montecito is valued at $14.65 million. A pittance, compared to Oprah’s mansion. But, they’re in the right neighborhood.

The house is on a gated street and is set on 7.5 acres of very expensive property. It provides about 19,000 square feet of living space, including 9 bedrooms and 16 bathrooms. There’s a wet sauna and a dry sauna, an arcade, game room, and home theater. On the property, there is a tea house, a children’s cottage, full-size tennis court, lap-lane swimming pool, and other outdoor amenities.

Harry also has a book that’s been published and was scheduled for release on Tuesday. The title is “Spare.” That’s a reference to the tradition that the King of England should have an heir and another child in case the first one should die before the throne passes on. Prince William is the heir, and Harry was the spare. The advance on the sale of the book was $1.5 million. In addition, Harry and Meghan have multiple media deals, which — I suppose — is almost like work.

• • •

Jim Glynn is Professor Emeritus of Sociology. He may be contacted at


bottom of page